Books at bus stops? That's the aim of Stuart McGechan.
Stuart is a chef by profession and history, having cooked in restaurants around the world. He has picked up a couple of Lamb & Beef Awards and prizes in other cooking competitions.
These days he is in his third year at UCOL in Whanganui, studying for a BDA (Bachelor of Design and Arts) with a Graphic Design major — a huge career shift.
As part of the course he has to come up with a community project — he has chosen to put books in bus stops, otherwise known as Book Stops.
He got the idea from a similar venture in Lyall Bay, Wellington. Just down from Queen Sally's Diamond Deli is a standard wooden bus shelter. In the top right corner is a small shelf loaded with books and magazines.
"I've always loved that idea and wanted to start that going somewhere, somehow. The opportunity arose through this particular assignment, doing a campaign for social good," he says.
There were official channels to navigate but Horizons Regional Council — which runs public transport — gave the green light and Whanganui District Council put him on to Jamie Waugh of Progress Castlecliff.
"Then I went to see the Red Cross bookshop and explained what I was doing." They supplied him with a box of books, suitable for all ages.
Stuart belongs to the Men's Shed and they gave him a hand with the shelving for the bus shelter. A special thanks goes to John Wicks, Men's Shed president.
Along with the shelf filled with books is a vertical design featuring the tag line "read, relax, return".
"The idea is for people to maybe pick up a book and put down their phone for a moment," says Stuart. "And rediscover the joy of books.
"If they take the book away, that's fine. It's not a precious thing, but hopefully they enjoy it and return it or maybe bring in another one to replace it." Stuart has produced a framed blurb to hang in the bus stop. It explains the whole book stop concept. H&A Print is helping out with printing and book marks.
The bus stop Stuart has chosen is an orange, wooden structure in Cornfoot St, near Rangiora St in Castlecliff. Now complete with shelf, books and blurb, the rest is up to the bus-catching public and the Castlecliff community.
"I'll start with one and see how it goes."
His UCOL assignment is to find something for social good and create a campaign around it. Evidently Midweek is part of that campaign.
The signage in the bus stop and the information on the book marks is also part of the publicity.
"These things do travel, so it's one way of getting the word out."